So the big news of the weekend was, naturally, the utter dominance of Zoodiacs at YCS Pittsburgh. At this point, if I were to make a crack about Dinosaurs "being extinct" you'd roll your eyes because you've probably heard that exact joke dozens of times since Sunday morning. If it wasn't running Zoodiacs it wasn't making the Top 32 in Pittsburgh. And while there was a ton of variety in the Zoodiac rainbow, Dinosaurs, Metalfoes, SPYRALS, and other exciting variants failed to make the Top Cut.
But oddly enough, the biggest push-factor in the TCGplayer Marketplace this weekend had practically nothing to do with the YCS. A ton of hype over the past few days drove the obscure spell card Heat Wave to nearly triple in price, under some sort of belief that a deck built around Phantasm Spiral Dragon could be the silver bullet to Zoodiacs, True Dracos, Dinosaurs, and well… everything else in the format.
The number of people driving Heat Wave toward an attempted buyout is unclear, but the fallout swept up a huge group of buyers, as players saw the enthusiasm for Heat Wave and proceeded to buy up tremendous numbers of Phantasm Spiral cards.
The timing here's up in the air; were players hoping to get ahead of an underdog showing for Phantasm Spiral at YCS Pittsburgh, gambling that the deck might somehow succeed? Did someone create a buyout to try and create that impression? Or was this a Sunday night response to the Zoodiac-heavy YCS results? We don't really know, but we do know that there was a perfect storm that pushed seven – yes, seven – Phantasm Spiral cards into the Top 10.
And there only are eight Phantasm Spiral cards. So…
#10: Zoodiac Chakanine
Zoodiac Chakanine saw even more success over the weekend than most would've assumed, as all of the Top 32 decks at YCS Pittsburgh played some form of Zoodiac engine. While Zoodiac Chakanine was largely seen as a one-of in most Extra Decks leading into the event, several Top 32 finishers found value in running a second copy, and the overall landslide success pushed even more players to pick up Chakanine.
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#9: True King of All Calamities
On the flipside, True King of All Calamities was a flop at YCS Pittsburgh with no True King Dinosaur decks to place it in a starring role. As of right now, none of the deck lists that have emerged from the YCS played it. That said, True King Dinosaurs did well in the previous Regional weekend, and it might've been those successes combined with residual Dinosaur enthusiasm – or simply an expectation that mass Side Decking will drive Zoodiacs down in upcoming tournaments – that kept demand so high for Calamities.
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#8: Phantasm Spiral Crash
I think I made a "here come the pretzels" joke a couple months ago and I really wish I'd kept that one for today.
So yeah. Somebody – or several somebody(s) – drove up the price on Heat Wave, riding some moderate buzz that it could be useful in a deck built around Phantasm Spiral Dragon. That deck revolves around a series of spell cards that equip to Normal Monsters, then Special Summon Phantasm Spiral Dragon from your hand, deck, or graveyard under varying battle conditions. Each equip spell then equips to the Spiral Dragon itself, and cashes in a bonus effect when it does.
Phantasm Spiral Crash is one of those equips, giving the monster it's attached to piercing damage and then Special Summoning a Phantasm Spiral Dragon when the monster deals damage to your opponent. It's a one-of in the few successful builds I've seen, since it's searchable.
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#7: Phantasm Spiral Grip
Another one-of Equip Spell, Spiral Grip gives the equipped Normal Monster +500 ATK and Special Summons a Phantasm Spiral Dragon when the equipped monster destroys another in battle. When it re-equips to Spiral Dragon, it burns your opponent for an extra 1000 damage.
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#6: Phantasm Spiral Power
The Phantasm Spiral trap cards come in two flavors, one being an alternate win condition that seems entirely unnecessary – that's Phantasm Spiral Assault, which actually came in at Number 11 this weekend – and a second variety that you can activate when you control at least one Normal Monster and no effect monsters. You can activate them from your hand if you control Umi, and the Phantasm Spiral Field Spell counts as Umi by way of its card text.
Spiral Power is generally seen as the weaker of the two useful traps, often run in multiples. It's sort of an Effect Veiler that also reduces opposing ATK and DEF, with the unfortunate opportunity cost of only working from hand if you control at least one Normal Monster and Pacifis, the Phantasm City. The benefit to it is that it's often free to search, and when it's in the graveyard it lets you reuse an on-theme equip from your graveyard.
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#5: Pacifis, the Phantasm City
Speaking of, the Field Spell itself came in at Number 5 this week. Pretty much a must-run, Pacifis is so important that Phantasm Spiral players in Japan are known to run both Terraforming and Planet Pathfinder to see it reliably. The card economy makes it worthwhile, since it gets you a free Phantasm Spiral card from your deck once per turn, every time you Normal Summon or Special Summon a Normal Monster.
It also keeps your field stocked with a 2000 ATK / 2000 DEF Phantasm Spiral Token at all times, giving you an alternate way to field a Normal Monster for free to power all of your effects. Its restriction is one of the biggest reasons why the Phantasm Spiral deck opts to play few or no Effect Monsters, since it effectively bans you from Summoning them.
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#4: Predaplant Ophrys Scorpio
Back on the more believable side of things, Predaplant Ophrys Scorpio made a notable impact in the last two weekends of Regional competition, and it showed up in the Top 32 at YCS Pittsburgh. We've talked about it before, but the gist is that for an extra card, Predaplant Ophrys Scorpio is effectively a Tour Guide From the Underworld searching Predaplant Darlingtonia Cobra, which then gets you Fusion Substitute, Instant Fusion, or Brilliant Fusion straight from your deck.
It's an amazing combo card that's seeing lots of play with and without Lonefire Blossom to search it, and it's only going to get more powerful if it's left untouched for Link Summoning. Expect to see more and more of it moving forward.
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#3: Phantasm Spiral Battle
Phantasm Spiral Battle is the most played of the Phantasm Spiral trap cards, potentially dropping from your hand to destroy any card at Spell Speed 2. It's arguably one of the biggest reasons to attempt to play Phantasm Spirals in the first place, offering big disruption… provided you can keep Pacifis and a Normal Monster on the table.
Its bonus effect, which throws all your active Phantasm Spiral equips onto one valid target you control, is the thing that gloriously stolen games are made of, but actually putting it to work can be tricky. Luckily it's attached to a fairly good card that's worth playing for its first effect alone.
If you're willing to play Phantasm Spirals in the first place. Which remains highly questionable.
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#2: Phantasm Spiral Dragon
You can't build a Phantasm Spiral deck without three Phantasm Spiral Dragon., and thus, it was one of the most purchased cards of the weekend.
This is a thing. This is happening.
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#1: Phantasm Spiral Wave
And finally, the most powerful of the Phantasm Spiral equips proved to be the biggest mover of the past four days. The easiest of the Special Summon effects to claim, Spiral Wave protects your equipped monster from destruction by battle once per turn, then Special Summons Phantasmal Spiral Dragon at the end of the Battle Phase if the equipped monster battled.
It's got by far the best bonus effect going as well, forcing a discard from your opponent's hand when it gets passed off to a Phantasm Spiral Dragon. You can talk about active graveyard effects all you want, but the possibility of resolving that effect multiple times is undeniably enticing, even if you're like me and see very little merit in the entire strategy.
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What else was big in the TCGplayer Marketplace this weekend? As noted before, Phantasm Spiral Assault was the 11th most-purchased card, but from there things returned to normal. Zoodiac Whiptail took Number 12 and True King Lithosagym, the Disaster took Number 13, representing Zoodiacs and True King Dinosaurs. Meanwhile True Draco stuff saw notable demand as well, with True King's Return and True Draco Heritage at Numbers 14 and 15 respectively.
In addition, we saw some noteworthy niche interest in Dinomists Howling, after Grant Williams managed to pilot a Dinomist deck to a 7-3 finish in Day 2 at YCS Pittsburgh. Williams scored a Round 9 Feature Match for his troubles, and though it was unfortunately a loss, it clearly turned some heads.
That's it for the weekend! Will the hype for Phantasm Spirals hold up? Will YCS Pittsburgh have more of an impact during the week? We'll see on Friday in our next Market Watch.